As I write this, Arik Sharon is in surgery again because of a deteriorating condition. He may survive, but it seems foregone that even if he does, it will be as a shadow of himself.

As I write this, Ehud Olmert, Sharon’s 60 year old protege, and Shimon Peres, the last healthy active Israeli leader from Israel’s founding generation, are meeting to map out the future of Sharon’s party, Kadima, and essentially to determine – directly and indirectly – Israel’s future.

Already, questions are being asked about why Sharon has experienced this second stroke and why it’s been so harsh. Nobody will ever be satisfied with the conclusions, although it is clear that Sharon should have not left the hospital after the first stroke. He might have missed a couple of weeks of work and campaigning, but he would have had a better chance to actually benefit from an electoral victory.

In other news, the Pope, great Zionist that he is, was asked about Sharon.

Benedict’s comment was in response to a question about the situation in the Middle East, after Sharon suffered a massive stroke Wednesday evening that made his return to power unlikely and prompted widespread anxiety about the future of the peace process in the region.

“We pray for peace in the Holy Land, so that the Lord will grant them durable peace,” Benedict was quoted as saying by the Apcom and ANSA news agencies. However, Benedict did not refer directly to Sharon.

Ouch! I’m sure we’re going to hear some spin in a few days from the Vatican about how this is meaningless, just as we heard last time when the Pope neglected to include Israel in the list of countries victimized by terrorism.

There may be many reasons for this omission, not the least of which is the Vatican’s determined attempts over the past several years to reach agreement with the Israeli government about certain rights for their personnel and properties in Israel. The Israelis have been negotiating, but not with much enthusiasm and without agreeing to many of the Vatican’s demands. This played out a couple of days ago in an interview where a Vatican representative indicated that Jerusalem and its holy places are not secure in Israeli hands. Of course, it is also not secure in Muslim hands and would be safe, according to the Vatican, in international hands. I’m sure the Vatican has since become convinced, as they watched the Palestinian bulldozer ram through the Egypt-Gaza border and EU monitors leave the area fearing for their lives, that international monitoring is a wonderful solution to the freedom of access and worship that the vast majority of Muslims, Christians and Jews enjoy in Jerusalem under Israeli control.

In many ways, it is a testament to Sharon’s strong will that the Pope snubbed him. That stubborness and strength of conviction have guided Sharon well through the decades, although they have also been his downfall at times. Lebanon is probably the best example of that. And perhaps, so was going home to his ranch to work from morning to night instead of letting up for once in his life and taking a break at the hospital.

I am not hopeful that he will survive long in light of today’s deterioration which is related to cranial bleeding, but wish him and his sons all the best. I remember a time, as a child, when I read about his bravery in Israel’s early years and again in 1973. I also remember a decade later when he became a man whose politics and military maneuvers were anathema to me. I have come to view him with respect as a master tactician, and perhaps strategist. He read the situation in 2000 correctly, and has proven to be a man who knew how to adapt to the ultimate leadership role – a role that compelled him to seek compromises and difficult solutions to complex problems.

I don’t believe Sharon ever knew how to focus on anything other than Israel’s security and war, but he is a product of Israel’s circumstances. He has often stated that he would rather have been a farmer. Instead, he has given his life to fighting in the military and in politics. Now that he is fighting for his life, I can only recall with some sadness that a decade ago, Yitzhak Rabin was murdered and his loss harmed a nascent peace process.

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themiddle

33 Comments

  • Trusting the Vatican to handle Jewish/Israeli affairs makes about as much sense as appointing Syria to head the UN’s Security Council. Oh wait…

    Anyways I agree w TM’s assessment of Sharon’s career and health, and I’m very sad that he had this stroke, especially in such bad timing. The PM earned my respect over the years and it’s a shame to see him collapse so catastrophically. Best wishes to Ariel Sharon.

  • For a Jew, being snubbed by the pope should be considered an honor, not an insult.

    The last pope and this one may be the best popes for the Jews in the last couple millenia. And Benedict seems to be well aware of the Islamizoid threat to Europe. But that does not change the fact that there are powerful elements in the Catholic Church that are inimical to Israel and the Jews (think Bush and the scum-sucking Arabists at Foggy Bottom).

    If the Vatican had any sense at all, they would be standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel to face the Islaminazi onslaught. But, being the Catholic Church, they just can’s seem to bring themselves to really admit their mistakes and do t’shuva.

  • Josh-There’s still a Knesset. Still the land. Still Israelis. Stll are Jews around the world. Still got an acting PM. Still got a crapload of backups for elections in March. Still got your attention.

    Leaderless, shmeaderless…Israel is quite stable and the remnants of the PA too disorganized to take any slight advantage of the state’s current crisis. So who’s bringing out the bats and beer bottles? Lefties who hated Sharon from the beginning? Fuck ’em. No one is listening..the ppl here in Israel (and I’m in Tel-Aviv) are praying. Don’t just stand there.

  • You know what boils my blood? Seeing people like you asking for prayers for Sharon, but mocking those who prayed in Gush Katif. OK, well maybe not you, but definitely those who supported the disengagement. Speaking of which, where are all of the evictees right now? I’ll give you one clue: Katrina evacuees are still suffering from the same fate right now. Brownie and Sharon, you’re doing a heck of a job!

  • Now, now, Joshua, I certainly supported and continue to support the disengagement. I also support what Sharon was planning to do next (or at least seemed to be planning) and hope that Olmert and Kadima will receive a mandate from Israelis to move forward on closing the fence.

    I don’t see what the relationship is between Gazan Jews having to leave and an older man who has served Israel and Zionism his entire life having a stroke and potentially losing his faculties and life. Maybe you can elucidate?

  • Yes, it has to do with the issue of prayer. The same people who call for prayer for the health of Sharon are the same people who mocked the people in Gush Katif who were praying for the disengagement to be blocked, so strong their belief in G-d was. Also, Sharon essentially kicked the people in Gush Katif out with no place to go, having to stay in hotels on their own dime, not the government’s.

    Oh, and it’s your decision if you want the Auschwitz borders that leftist Abba Eban warned about.

  • I see, so if I pray for a million dollars and I also supported the disengagement, there is something inherently evil about the million dollars whether it falls from the sky or does not.

    It’s a bit of a stretch, Joshua, but I get it, you’re angry.

    As far as I know, the government has been paying for the extended stay at the hotels. The government also paid for a large apartment building which settlers have decided they don’t want. The government offered housing in areas where there was availability and the settlers refused because they wanted to remain together. The government has offered compensation for lost houses, and additional compensation for lost businesses, and no matter how much they offer, it’s not considered enough. 1.1 million shekels per household is not considered enough. Let’s not forget all those settlers – about half – who didn’t bother signing up with the government to receive their benefits because they didn’t want to have anything to do with the disengagement.

    As for the “leftist” Abba Eban, it’s interesting to note that you have contemept for him no less than you do for the “rightist” Ariel Sharon. You seem to have a lot of contempt for those who founded and helped Israel survive, don’t you? In fact, you also seem to have contempt for the government of Israel, and I’m willing to bet that if we scratched a little under the surface we’d find some contempt for the IDF and its soldiers who implemented the disengagement.

    Do you see that connection, Joshua? You have contempt for the Jewish state and its institutions and leaders.

    How is it that we’ve come to this juncture? Do you not realize that you wouldn’t have a state or territories with settlements were it not for this state and its leadership? Do you not realize that every house, neighborhood, road and kindergarten in the territories is subsidized and would not exist were it not for the state and its leaders, not to mention the sacrifice made by the IDF and its soldiers? Do you not realize that you wouldn’t be able to even attack a Jewish politician about making borders smaller were it not for the fact the borders exist?

    Why do you think that you know or understand better how history should play out? Auschwitz borders? Eban never had to deal with the territorial, military, diplomatic or demographic issues that exist today or that existed even a decade ago. What’s interesting is that Sharon did the minute he was no longer in the opposition and became the PM. And what was his conclusion? That you’re wrong and that the best way to defend and secure Israel is to cut ourselves off from the Palestinians and certain areas that do not ultimately benefit Israel and its security.

  • First, nice strawman. You can support the disengagement, but this is where you mock the residents’ prayers:
    “Let’s not forget all those settlers – about half – who didn’t bother signing up with the government to receive their benefits because they didn’t want to have anything to do with the disengagement.”

    You wanna know why? B/c they were praying to G-d to stop the disengagement, because they believed it wasn’t going to happen. You mock their prayer that they should stay, but then you pray that Sharon should survive? Give me a break. Yeah, I want him to survive as well, but I do so with less hypocrisy.

    Second, I don’t know where you’re getting your info on compensation, but A7 is saying from personal testimonials (rather than from government bureaucrats) they they haven’t received one red cent (even those who left voluntarily), either for compensation or for housing. And what’s wrong with staying together? If you want to force them to split up, you’re no better than the Nazis, who did the same thing (yeah, I dared to drop the “n” word, because aside from the concentration camps and ghettoization, they’re doing the same exact thing by splitting up neighbors. Not the soldiers, mind you, but the bureaucrats).

    Oh, and go to Sderot and Ashkelon. I bet they’re absolutely LOVING the disengagement that brought the Kassams to their very doorsteps, especially Ashkelon, which didn’t have to suffer from them until now. Yes, I think the disengagement would have ultimately worked, had it been done bilaterally and not as a reward for terror. That’s why Hamas is going to win the parliamentary elections and why Israel is going to give up more land, strengthening the hand of Hamas in a vicious cycle. You want to strengthen your enemy; I want to strengthen my peace partner (whoever that may be).

  • You know, I wrote a lengthy answer just now, but then I reread your comment and erased my response after seeing that Nazi remark for the second time.

    I hope that you snap out of your current state of mind and that those who continue to fuel this anger and hatred come to their senses soon.

    Either way, Sharon deserves our best wishes and he certainly has mine.

  • No, no, you’ve got it all wrong. THIS would be mocking the prayers of Gush Katif settlers:

    “The religious Gush Katif settlers, like a lot of people possessed of certain fundamenalist national/religious ideologies, were convinced that God was on their side and that they were inherently better than all those depraved, godless yobs in ‘mainstream Israel,’ and weren’t shy about saying it. Then political reality came knocking, but, refusing to believe anything that contradicted their own holier-than-thou messianist ideology, and used to being coddled by the government, they refused to accept it, convinced that since they were so great and holy and all, God would give their prayers first priority and wouldn’t let the plans of the evil Nazi secular goons come to pass. But as it turned out, God did let the plans of the evil Nazi secular goons come to pass. I guess the settlers were wrong. God’s car has a blue ribbon. Hahahaha.”

    Now isn’t that a world of difference from what the Middle is saying?

  • I did in fact receive it, and I’ve been composing a lengthy, heartfelt reply, but I’ve been distracted by a few lengthy, heartfelt essays on such sundry topics as John Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost as an allegory for the rise and fall of Oliver Cromwell, Ashkenazi/Sephardi relations in Israel as seen through the prism of A.B. Yehoshua’s “A Late Divorce” and the ideological aims and history of the Bilu. You know how it goes.

  • 😆

    Yes, I do know how it goes. I’m jealous. For anyone who cares, by the way, I truly enjoyed Professor Rivka Maoz’s art history and Israeli literature classes. I don’t know whether she still teaches at the Overseas school.

  • Snap out of it? You’re the one who needs to snap out of it. Why should these neighbors be split up if they don’t want to be? OK, don’t like the Nazi remark? How about the Soviets deporting neighbors to distant parts of its territory? That would be a more apropos comparison. See, it doesn’t just come from one political extreme. Oh, and I’m just waiting for your lengthy response, I really am.

    BTW, glad to see I started a flame war. This discussion was just a tinderbox waiting to explode.

    Oh, and Michael, you’re no better than Pat Robertson. Replace everything you just wrote about Gush Katif with Katrina and Louisiana. I guess G-d was wearing “No War for Oil” T-shirt there too, huh? Congratulations, you just mocked the victims of Katrina!

  • Flame war? Why do you say that, have you been attacked? You wanted to throw out the nazi word and all of a sudden you feel big and strong? Wow, we’re all impressed.

    Anyhow, Joshua, you really did miss out because my long comments are my best comments.

  • Ok, want to see the fruits of the disengagement? Because you won’t tell me what good it’s doing, I’ll tell you what it’s doing instead.

    Link one
    Link two

    Oh, and if those weren’t enough, THIS just came out:
    Link three

    Oh, and I’m happy you deleted your long response. I’m sure it’s just another collection of ad hominems and strawmen, just like the other two you posted in this thread.

  • Oh, and here’s something else to munch on:
    Link four

    It says there will soon be a report out from the Comptroller essentially slamming the government for negligence, but is being withheld for the time being b/c of Sharon’s health.

  • Well Joshua, I don’t see anything new or surprising in your links, although the last one does refute your earlier comment about none of the settlers receiving compensation.

    The fact is that Qassems were being launched when we were in Gaza as well. Hamas can smuggle all the guns it wants into the strip, because for the most part, that’s where they are staying. Let them fight each other all day long if they wish.

    But do you notice how no Israeli soldiers are at significant risk over there now? Do you notice that families are not in the way of Palestinian terrorists who want to blow up school buses to maim the children? Do you notice the favorable reaction and new confidence in Israel and its intentions? Do you notice the much-improved demographic balance?

    The most serious problem the settlers are facing is unemployment. This is a genuine problem and concern for these families. Much of the other pain could have been avoided had they and some of their leaders not attempted to subvert the actions a democratically elected government – a government that has proven its popularity even now with Sharon in a hospital bed.

    Let it go, Joshua. Let the anger go because it’s a festering disease that only harms you and those you care about.

  • Well, ok. This just came out, and I just saw that. But the breaking up of families in a community that never experienced such a phenomenon is still a problem. Also, let’s not forget that Mitzna ran on the platform of disengagement and got smacked by the electorate. Heck, Sharon even said himself that the fate of Gush Katif would be the fate of Israel when he attacked Mitzna for suggesting that. In other words, no, the residents of Gush Katif and their representatives did not subvert the will of the people, because it was NOT the will of the people when the Knesset was elected. That, in my opinion, was the fundamental problem.

    Also, a report that came out shortly before the stroke said that Sharon had taken $3 million in bribes, so who knows if the vote in the Knesset was genuine? After all, a little bribery and threatening goes a long way. Just ask Messrs. Abramoff and DeLay.

  • Families were not broken up. Neighborhoods were broken up – and even there an attempt has been made to keep as many as possible together.

    Your second point is more on target in that he took Mitzna’s platform and made it his own. That was my point to you earlier about how it’s easy to criticize in the opposition but when you are the decision-maker, sometimes reality forces you to change directions. Sharon, one of the finest tactical and possibly strategic minds in Israel (and probably far beyond Israel) got to power and changed his approach. That was his right and there were no shortages of attempts to bring down his government. They failed.

    In fact, it was to the credit of all Israelis, including the settlers, that the disengagement happened relatively quickly and virtually without incident. But this had a lot to do with the democratic nature of the event.

    Finally, about the bribery, until he is charged and proven guilty, it is all conjecture. Really. Look at the poll numbers, Joshua. Most israelis want to move forward on the fence and separation from the Palestinians.

  • Mocking the victims of Katrina? Uhhh…first, I am one, second, since when did Katrina victims have holier-than-thou messianist ideologies which required that they live in the Gulf region? In fact, what the hell does the hundreds of thousands of victims of a massive natural disaster have to do with a few thousand Jews who were moved a hundred kilometers from their own homes with no loss of life or limb? Shit, more Jews lost their homes due to Katrina than Gush Katif. Do you mean to sound so shrill, or are you just not very good at drawing analogies?

  • By families breaking up, I meant the basic family structure, but don’t listen to me, read this:
    http://www.israelnn.com/news.php3?id=96461

    As for Sharon’s 180, I know of another 180. I wonder if you remember this quote: “Read my lips: no new taxes.” Now remember what happened to the person who said it when he reneged.

    And Michael, no offense, but from your shrill insensitivity, maybe G-d is trying to show you what the expellees are going through and is therefore testing you. Just a thought. Oh, and so far, it seems like you’re failing, as I can see your heart is hardened.

  • So, let me get this straight. God killed hundreds of people, displaced hundreds of thousands more, and destroyed several major cities and dozens of towns, all to get me to understand the plight of the poor Gaza settlers, of whom not a single one was injured or killed? All that just for me?

    Wow. I don’t know whether to be flattered, take issue with the fact that you seem to believe in a God who would mercilessly kill hundreds of unrelated innocent people to make one person more sympathetic to a few thousand evacuees, or to just call you an idiot.

    Wait. I do know. Idiot.

  • OK, I may have stretched it a bit too far, but guess what, you are a hypocrite nonetheless. You’re a refugee, yet you piss on people who are also refugees. You keep dealing in theory, I’ll keep dealing with facts on the ground. And the facts on the ground say that those who prayed for Sharon pissed on those in Gush Katif praying for help and the youngest refugees are experimenting in drugs, experiencing depression, dropping out of school (or, at the very least, falling a full year behind their peers), disobeying their parents for the first time in forever, and, to some of them, experiencing their entire families break up. Have some heart! Oh yeah, that’s right, I forgot, you’re a self-righteous Katrina refugee, you don’t have to show any heart!

  • Yikes Josh. I appreciate your forthrightness but you really have to stop painting all those who supported the disengagement with one broad stroke. I don’t think any one of us pissed on any Gush Katif resident who prayed for Hashem’s guidance and assistance. That’s a fine and noble thing to do – I dare say many of those who supported the disengagement had a prayer or two on their lips as well. Frankly, the fact that no deaths or serious injuries ensued from that whole debacle was miraculous given the rancor that preceded the disengagement.

    What we do take offense to is idiot pulsa denura rituals that are bordering on avodah zarah and that call for the death of a fellow Jew. That sort of made up voodoo bullshit deserves all the approbation and ridicule it can get. It is the purest manifestation of sinat chinam and chillul hashem I have ever seen, especially because it is orchestrated by presumably learned men who ought to know better and who make all religious God fearing Jews look like blood thirsty retards.

    I feel for the troubles some of the Gush Katif refugees are experiencing. But your combative, divisive and hostile righteous indignation aint helping things out, that’s for sure. Please think about that over shabat.

  • I’ll keep dealing with facts on the ground. And the facts on the ground say that those who prayed for Sharon pissed on those in Gush Katif praying for help. Err, so prayers are actually piss when you’re praying for someone that Joshua here doesn’t like. And praying for your fellow Jews is only valid when they happen to be other Jews Joshua here supports. People of the world take note, and alter your prayers accordingly!

    Maybe it’s more like this – All the heartfelt prayers to keep gush katif got answered. But sometimes God answers “no, I have other plans.”

    Whats done is done. Those expelled from Gush Katif have two choices. They can continue to blame there fellow jews, allowing bitterness to grow inside them until the hatred and stymies whatever good they could have done in the world, or they can deal with it on a proactive level. They can have faith that Hashem is in control and learn to find peace and forgiveness and build a new life, as hard as that may be.

    Psychological trauma has certainly occurred, families have been uprooted from communities and dearly held beliefs have been ripped away by reality. Therapy might be recommended for many. But as with all psychological trauma, bitterness does not serve humanity well. Holding a lifelong vigil for an injustice done to you only keeps you a victim and stuck and terrible moment in time. The harder, braver thing to do is to accept, mourn, forgive and rebuild.

  • ck, I’m sorry that I get a little unhinged when I see hypocrisy. I didn’t mean to paint everyone with a broad brush, but as you certainly know, there is that subset of extreme chiloni’im who did exactly that (for example, Michael). They can’t have it both ways in my opinion. And when I see them trying to have their cake and eat it too, I gently remind them (ok, more like shove it in their faces).

    And Laya, nice putting words in my mouth. See above for my remarks on hypocrites. Those who did support the disengagement but understood the people’s pain (which, I pray, is a great majority of Jews), I have no beef with in terms of hypocrisy. Now, Israelis taking care of Katrina victims before the victims of Gush Katif, well, that’s still an issue for me. Not that you’re one of them.

    Oh, and maybe G-d can take better care of the situation, because I’d really like to see those Kassams being launched from Dugit, Nissanit, and Elei Sinai blow right back on those Hamas asshats launching them.

  • joshua – I have expressed my empathy on this blog and elsewhere for those whose lives and belief systems were turned upside down due to disengagement, despite my support for the decision.

    However, you seem a little “hypocrite happy” but you might just want to be careful with the hatred and projections, because that too can seem a little hypocritical of a religious God-fearing man. “judge your fellow favorably” “do not hate your brother in your heart” and all.

    In addition, I think comparing Katrina and Gaza refugees is a bit misleading. Katrina refugees did not receive months of warning and prior compensation for leaving. Gazan settlers did. It’s an awful circumstance, granted, but those who got stuck in hotel rooms for weeks didn’t need to be. I admire their faith, I really truly do, but sometimes, you have to admit to reality before it bites you in the ass.

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